The Browns have locked up one of the top impending free agents. The organization announced that they have signed linebacker Jamie Collins to a four-year contract. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport says (via Twitter) the deal is worth $50MM, with $26MM in guaranteed money.
When reports surfaced last week that the two sides were close to an extension, it was said that the Browns defender was focused on topping Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly‘s $12.36MM average yearly salary. Since Collins’ annual salary will presumably be lingering around $12.5MM, it appears that he succeeded in his goal. Among linebackers, Collins’ annual salary will only trail Von Miller, Justin Houston and Clay Matthews.
Collins had previously turned down $11MM a season from the Patriots. While this new contract surely would have strapped New England, the Browns have plenty of money to spend thanks to their projected $110MM in cap space.
Following three-plus seasons in New England, Collins was traded to the Browns for a conditional 2017 third- or fourth-round pick. The linebacker ultimately started each of his eight games with Cleveland, compiling 69 tackles, two sacks, and one forced fumble. In his seven games (six starts) for the Patriots, Collins collected 43 tackles, two interceptions, and one sack. Pro Football Focus ranked Collins 44th among NFL edge defenders this past season. The 2013 second-round pick was a Pro Bowler in 2015 after finishing that campaign with 89 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and five forced fumbles.
“We are going to be aggressive about acquiring talent, and when we had the opportunity to trade for Jamie back in October, it was done with the intent of him becoming a long-term part of our defense,” said Sashi Brown, Executive Vice President of Football Operations. “Jamie has shown throughout his NFL career that he is a very talented player with a rare skill set that allows him to impact games in a number of ways. He’s a versatile, smart, competitive and physical football player who has experienced winning at the highest level. Jamie was great to have in our building this season, and we look forward to him being a Cleveland Brown for a number of years to come. We are counting on him to be a big part of us becoming a winning team.”
“From the day I walked in the door, I felt welcomed by my new teammates and everyone in this organization,” Collins said. “The past is the past as far as last season’s record, but today is a new day. I’m only looking forward. I know we have a lot of work to do, and with Coach Hue leading us and the front office bringing in talent, I feel like we are going to get there and I feel good about continuing my career here.”
With Collins locked up, the Browns can now shift focus to another major free agent. Wideout Terrelle Pryor is set to become a free agent following his breakout 2016 campaign. Since the team signed Collins to an extension, the Browns could look to apply the franchise tag to Pryor.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.